Most objects have a pretty obvious purpose, but sometimes things fall out of fashion, leaving the next generation to wonder, "what exactly was this used for?" That's where the sleuths of the internet come in. If you're not sure what exactly an object is used for, there's usually someone who knows.
The Reddit subgroup "What is This Thing?" leads people with an object of questioned use to people who might know just what the object is. Some of the most fascinating answers have even caught the attention of police departments and hazardous waste clean up teams.
Found This In My House. I Bet My Wife It Has Something To Do With A Tie. Do I Win?
"Hoof pick for cleaning horses hooves." - Reddit / fence_post2
Bag Of Water With What Looks Like A Penny Nailed Above A Shop Door In California. What Is This Thing?
"That's to stop flys from entering. Doesnt work, but people still believe it." - Reddit / tempestuscorvus
"Mythbusters said "This myth is based in the theory that refracted light in water confused flies’ compound eyes.". But nothing about the penny." - Reddit / swiftb3
A Miniature Mask I Found In New Zealand. What Is This Thing?
"Balinese ‘yawning’ dance mask. It looks like a miniature version of the actual masks used in Balinese dance performances." - Reddit / katbali
Ceramic Jug With Holes In The Opening; What Is This Used For?
"A "thingy" to help hold flowers straight or in the design you desire." - Reddit / Attercrop
This Rainbow Effect?
"A rainbow is a rainbow. The cause is refraction/dispersion of light due to water in the air. Looks like it’s raining over there. The shape is just a matter of angles and height." - Reddit
What Is This Thing That You Always See On An Escalator?
"They help keep shoes, dresses, handbags, etc. from getting snagged in the tiny gap at the side. I use them as a little shoe shine, too." - Reddit / brock_lee
Plaque With Numbers Inscribed On It. Found On The Sidewalk Outside A Building At My University
"It's a most-perfect magic square where every subsquare of 4 also adds up to the same number, even if you "wrap around." 9 + 6 + 16 + 3 = 34; 9 + 6 + 7 + 12 = 34; 5 + 11 + 16 +2 = 34. And also the diagonals and "broken diagonals:" 9 + 3 + 8 + 14 = 34; 16 + 6 + 1 +11 = 34. Its name is Chautisa Yantra and it's pretty well known." - Reddit / WizLiz
I Found This Hanging From The Basement Rafters Of My 100 Year Old House. It Appears To Be Two Marbles Or Something Similar In A Hanger Of Some Sort. Any One Have A Clue What This Could Be?
"It's a razor blade sharpener. A 1930s salesman's special and it doesn't even sharpen the blades just realigns the edge and gets you a few more shaves." - Reddit / Urithiru
What Are These Circular Metal Things On These Stairs? I Just Hit My Knee And Goddamn Did It Hurt
"Skateboard prevention device. Keeps em from grinding on edges." - Reddit
An Opening In The Bottom Floor Of An 1850s Home In Charleston, South Carolina. What Is This Thing?
"Probably just an way to access your crawlspace, there’s usually plumbing, wiring and potentially ductwork that periodically may need maintenance." - Reddit / Joejayce
IKEA Coffee Mug, What Is The Thing At The Bottom?
"So water doesn't stay on the bottom if you put the mug in the dishwasher. Pretty clever design actually.” - Reddit / numberdonine
When You Pull The Ring On This, Four Little Pins Come Out. What Is It Used For?
"It's an anti-theft device for pocket watches. When the watch gets pulled, the spikes extend, preventing loss, and well, notifying you as well." - Reddit / I_Me_Mine
What Are These Swirly Things? Found On Google Maps - Located In Cogdell, Georgia, USA
"Checked the tax records... It is or was an alligator farm." - Reddit / dnlkns
Saw This In A Forest In Germany. What Is This Thing?
"It's a fridge, or a old time cold room. Basically a room covered with dirt for insulation." - Reddit / mdroflmaozedong
"We had one on the family farm that my great uncle ran until he passed away. It was down in a small ravine with the door facing north, and an outcropping above it to keep the sunlight off of the door year round. I’ve always been fascinated by how long things kept. My aunt stored some things you’d never think would keep longterm, like fresh eggs and goat cheese." - Reddit / Derpandbackagain
My Grandfather Told Us To Not Remove This When Renovating. This is in Sweden. What Is This Thing?
"Aztec calendar. Funny thing, I remember a bunch of these a while ago being smuggled over the border and they were made of [controlled substances]." - Reddit / ArcaneHackist
"Replicas of the Aztec calendar are extremely popular among street artists throughout Mexico, especially at ruins in the Yucatán near Cancun, and Teotihuacan outside Mexico City." - Reddit / _Neoshade_
What Are These Things I Keep Seeing On Nearly All The London Bus Stops In My Area?
"It's potato art... And I'm not even kidding... The artist is unknown (some say by an artist called NoNose), if you look for 'London bus stop potato art' you can find many more articles written about it." - Reddit / eltonnovs
Mostly Concerned About Why Is This Thing?
"Typically to perform medical services on them or attend to their hooves." - Reddit / jackrats
"Smaller ones exist for other livestock. For small sheep, that's how some of them have their hooves trimmed - they come up the run, into the machine, get flipped and manicured (and usually vaccinated with 5-in-1) checked, and then sent out! Though I imagine for a cow it's a hell of a lot scarier!" - Ceredwyn Ealanta
Found In Deep Creek Md. What Is This Thing?
"Stonefly larvae. Good sign for the water quality." - Reddit / AlbaWest
What Is This Thing In My Classroom? Makes Subtle Fan-Like Sounds And Changes Colour On Top
"AV1 is a personal avatar for children suffering from long-term illness, helping them to continue their education and maintain the normality of daily life despite no longer being able to access mainstream education. Through an app, the user can remotely log into the class from their home or hospital. Looking through the robots eyes, the child can watch the lesson, through the robot’s ears they can hear greetings from their friends and they can speak through the robot to interact with the rest of the class." - Reddit / SeldomCrises
What Are These for in an Outdoor Area of a Hospital?
“These are emergency showers. An affected person (chemical spills, laboratory mishaps, etc) will pull the level on the top and tepid water (OSHA defined between 60F and 100F) will douse the affected from the shower head (above) and boot sprayer (below). The duration of these showers is required to be 15 full minutes at approximately 20 PSI.
Source: I design these systems” - Reddit / brisket_curd_daddy
My Mom And Dad Were Doing Some Landscaping In The Backyard And Found This Weird Slate With Writing Etched Into It. The Months Are Spelled Out And The Year States 1827 But That’s All The Information Here. Also, This Was Located In Southern Missouri
"It looks like a practice gravestone scrap to me. Like someone who carved gravestones would practice engraving lettering and drawings on this broken piece of stone." - Reddit / rinky79
Washed Up On A Beach In Florida. What Is This Thing?
"It is a wave-powered desalinator that is owned by Oneka Technologies, a firm in Quebec. It takes seawater and turns it into fresh water. It is powered by the motion of the waves." - Reddit / I_Me_Mine
My Boss Just Got Married, And Due To A Combination Of Indian Tradition And Him Being A Bro, He Brought Us These Little Snackboxes. He Left Before I Could Ask Him Much About Them. What Are They Called And What Are They Made Out Of?
"The white block to the left is made with cashew nuts and sugar : It is called kaju barfi. The yellow block looks like it is mango flavored barfi. The circular one looks like dried fig with nuts stuffed in it. The shiny ones have edible silver foil and are also made from almonds, cashews and pistachio nuts. They are all made with clarified butter and are delicious desserts." - Reddit / titiwawaa
Weird Squirming Living Lovecraftian Nightmare On Our Lawn Chair This Morning. What Is This Thing?
"Probably a hag moth. That’s a caterpillar with fuzzy “false arms” on its back to make it look like a dead leaf. (We’re looking at the belly)." - Reddit / _Neoshade_
Grainy-Like Things? They Appear Inside And On My Closet, And Reappear Whenever I Clean Them. What Are These?
"Termite poop. Sorry." - Reddit / JaysusSaves
Water Flows From A Culvert Beneath A Trail Into This Circular Pool, Then Continues On Into The Woods. What's The Pool's Purpose?
“Settling pond for erosion control and improving the downstream water for happier fish.” - Reddit / Butteriswinning
Thin Slabs of Ivory with Days of the Week on the Top Found in my Closet
"Product Description: "...Fabulous antique early Victorian chatelaine aide memoir from mid 1800s. Made of sheets of bone, it would have hung on a lady's chatalaine chain or been kept securely in her pocket and she would have used it to make note and appointments for the week to come. It has 6 pages for the days Monday to Saturday, of course a lady would never have made appointments on a Sunday!…” - Reddit / DrKenNoisewaterMD
Mini Harpoon Thing Found When Changing Bedding In A Hospital Room
"Patient had been tased. It's a taser dart." - Reddit / brock_lee
Found On Guam In Shallow Water. 3-Meter Diameter Disk. Top Looks Like Polyester In A Honeycomb Shape That Is Fiber Glassed To Flimsy Aluminum Disk. I'm Stumped On This One. Never Seen Anything Like It. What Is This Thing?
"There was recently a Chinese Long March 3B rocket launch that failed, and the rocket and its payload was seen reentering the atmosphere near Guam." - Reddit / Kosmos_Entuziast
"It's a honeycomb structure to keep it light, diffuse the heat and forces of a rocket launch (some of the most extreme forces we submit man-made objects to), and to reduce the cost of the part and the launch as a whole." - Reddit / The_Lolbster
Growing From The Basement Ceiling At A Very Rapid Rate. It Is Also Leaving On The Table Below It, Grayish Particles. What Is This Thing?
"Those are the studs from your walls -- redistributed by your termites." - Reddit / jackrats
"Walls and beams may already be just a shell and totally eaten out. Be careful. Weakened structures tend to be unpredictable about their longevity." - Reddit / juice_in_my_shoes
What Are Those Things Called? I Think They're Typical Of Gothic Architecture?
"Flying buttresses. They’re there to transfer the weight of the roof outwards to stop the walls bowing and collapsing." - Reddit / Avian87
On The Underside Of Our Cabinet In The House We Recently Bought, Built In The 70s. Plastic With Metal Teeth On One Side, Very Dull. Each Side Is ~4 Inches Long. What Is This Thing?
"Jar opener. Wedge a lid of a glass pasta jar or jelly jar into until it "bites into it" then twist." - Reddit / Kainih
I’m Not Doing My Dishes Until I Know What This Beautiful Thing Is
"Homebrewer here. That’s a bacteria pellicle." - Reddit
What Is This Fiber/Sand Ball? Found Among Thousands Like It On A Beach In Spain. It Weighs Almost Nothing
"Sea grass ball." - Reddit / 4-me
Poured A Glass Of Water Last Night From The Tap Left It Under The Light On The Night Stand, Next Morning I Found This Floating In It... What Could It Be?
"If it actually did come out the tap with the water, my guess is some sort of flocculant/coagulant used in tap-water treatment, that somehow made it past the system and was still dissolved/in suspension in the water. Then settled out during the night.
These chemicals are used to attract particle in the water and clump them together for easier removal. Some of those "concoctions" looks similar to this after settling out." - Reddit / Apocrisiary
This Sci-Fi Looking Place In Poland, Somewhere By Krakow. What Is This Thing?
"Alvernia Studios is a film studio located near Kraków, Poland, 18 km (10 miles) from the Kraków-Balice Airport, with additional offices in Mumbai and Warsaw." - Reddit
Found In The Wood In A Creek. It Was Under A Piece Of Wood. What Is This Thing?
"Those look like midge eggs, an aquatic fly." - Reddit / brkngspydr
Found In A Crawlspace Of A House From The 80's Next To 3 Red Boxes Encased In Concrete. What Is This Thing?
"This label is used for materials with gamma and neutron emissions This label was specifically used on containers shipped by aircraft, and that reference is from the late 50s/early 60s. Any red label is going to be Group I or II, which as stated above emits gamma rays, neutrons, or both, and is potentially harmful even with the box closed. OP's lid came from something shipped by air, but it's interesting to note that on ground shipments of the same class of materials (like with the label variant I found in my first edit), the trucks themselves were required to be marked "CAUTION" or "DANGEROUS - RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS" on the sides and rear of the vehicle just to haul this kind of material." - Reddit / boringXtreme
"As of today a 3 man team from the state of Utah department of environmental quality, division of waste management and radiation control, uranium Mills and radioactive materials section (holy [crap]) showed up at my friend's house around 10am and spent a few hours taking readings, swabbing samples and asking questions and after all of that, found nothing but natural trace amounts of radon. The "lid" they think was from the late 1950's and was unrelated to the "vault"." - Reddit / mosaltedchipz
Found In The Middle Of Asian Desert, In Google Earth At 40°26'37"N 90°48'00"E. What Is This Thing?
"They are the evaporation ponds for the Xinjiang Lop Nur Potash Co., Ltd. one of the world's largest potassium sulfate production mines." - Reddit / MrDorkESQ
Saw This Rusty Thing On My Walk In A Forest. The Forest Belong To A Estate Wedellsborg, Vestfyn, Denmark. What Is This Thing?
"It is an underwater mine." - Reddit
What Are These Are What Are They For? The Girl Sitting Across From Me Had Them On All Fingers On Both Hands
"Oval finger splints for treating: Arthritis, Boutonniere Deformities, Crooked Finger, Fractures, Hypermobility (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), Lateral Deviation, Mallet Finger, Swan Neck, Trigger Finger, Trigger Thumb." - Reddit / SpaTowner
Found This Thing In The Woods. What Is This Thing?
"I think it's stinkhorn egg." - Reddit / tomtom1961
"And they're edible!" - Reddit / PowdahedShugah
Found Near The Water In Newport Rhode Island. What Is This Thing?
"Conch egg cases. Or other snail but guessing conch by size." - Reddit / Tonto_HdG
Spotted On The Train In Copenhagen This Morning. Rolling White Light Across The Buttons, The Colour Lights Flashed Sporadically. Headphones Jack Connected And The User Was Wearing Headphones. Ladybug Appears On The Top Left. What Is This Thing?
"It is an OP-Z by Teenage Engineering - A synthesizer and sequencer." - Reddit
What Is This? It Was At My Grandfather’s House
"Native American here, the term most associated with these are "peace pipes or peace pipe tomahawks". Natives call them Calumet's as a holdover from the french days." - Reddit / Malachhamavet
Translucent Gelatinous Matter With Black/White Spots, Found In Local Woodlands (UK). What Is This Thing?
"Frogspawn. Apparently unfertilized frog spawn has white spots in it rather than the black ones we're more used to seeing." - Reddit / paulmarchant
Small Booklets Of Gibberish Found In A Vacant Home, Appears To Possibly Be Military Related
"That's actually a ritual book for the Independent Order of the Oddfellows. In your link to the page picture the heading translates: FD OTDOF which is First Degree, Or The Degree Of Friendship." - Reddit / biotek6
Do Workers Mom Found This In A Box In The Attic. What Is This Thing?
"The kīla is used as a ritual implement to signify stability on a prayer ground during ceremonies, and only those initiated in its use, or otherwise empowered, may wield it. The energy of the kīla is fierce, wrathful, piercing, affixing, transfixing." - Reddit / Knight_of_the_Lepus
What is This? For Context: It's In A Dentists Office
"A very old dental drill." - Reddit / brock_lee
"Several of these old drills have been repurposed (decades ago) into spinning wheels for making yarn. They are distinctively shaped, so they are easy to spot!" - Reddit / sawyouoverthere
What Is This Red Hat That I See This Student Wearing All The Time?
"It's a type of turban worn by Naqshbandi Sufi Muslims. I think it's called a Naqshbandi Taj, though I'm not sure if that's the name for specifically the cone shaped cap in the middle or the entire headdress including the turban." - Reddit / SincerelySpicy